Blog Template Theology of the Body: Caves of Forgotten Dreams

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Caves of Forgotten Dreams

My husband and baby daughter and I crept into Werner Herzog's latest film last night, and we were enchanted. Herzog can create and capture magic. It takes a little patience on both ends, but I love that in this film he is willing to teach me how to connect the soulful images left long ago by passionate, drum-beating people, with the passion of the somewhat clumsier modern folk who scan, synthesize, and study the same images on their modern technology, and then go home to dream of lions. When my little one started to sing along with Herzog's kind, lulling voice, we crept out a little early, but every curve of those cave walls, every undulation of the human face in response to quiet brush strokes stays with me...

I thought of a lot of things while watching this film. How striking that even in a primal subsistence culture that was necessarily more utilitarian than ours, humanity paused to express itself in the leisurely pursuit of beauty for it's own sake. How unsurprising that such a creature can pause, successfully, to reflect upon and worship it's creator. How logical the proposal that we were *meant* to do so.

And I thought of the secret within every person for that particular participation in and with the Creator, where truth is lived out, where art is made. As a mother, I thought of that place where primal little infant people dance in hidden places to the drum-like rythm of a heartbeat. I remember our first golden little sonograms of our baby in her primal little cave, in the womb; I was struck then by the sheer holiness of that quiet, hidden place where something is made for it's own sake, and for God's. So purely artistic. Such aimless, perfect recreation.

Herzog's team stoops and grunts gracelessly enough to enter the Chauvet Cave. Once inside, it must have required gymnastics to achieve such beautiful camera work from the awkward crowding on their aluminum platform. But once there, Herzog asks his crew for total silence so they can "hear the cave," and perhaps also their own heartbeats. The silence feels a little stilted at first. For audience and filmmaker alike, it has got to take a lot of work to really enter a space like that, and then to recollect the self enough to really experience it. Because in its own way, it's a holy place.

May our utilitarian world recall itself to its caves of dreams...all of them.